Wednesday, April 27, 2016

The Retreat Goes Forward

Friends, has this ever happened to you? You make meticulous plans for a project, let's say just for a random example, banging out a sweater at a weekend knitting retreat. You print out your pattern, order and receive your yarn from exotic foreign sources, swatch, assemble correct needles plus extras just in case, add measuring, cutting, and sewing tools. You pop it all in a bag and haul it off to said retreat.

That was me this weekend, all geared up to #bangoutablaer. (See previous post for all the sweater-banging-out background.) I cast on the minute I arrived at the cabin, and by Friday evening had made excellent progress, to wit: the contrast neck band and lace section.

It may not look like much to you, but lace doesn't get banged out quickly. In fact, some of the lace areas had to be knitted more than once. Let's just say that liquor and lace are not an ideal combination for fast progress. Well, fast and correct progress, anyway.

This being a top-down yoke cardigan, what followed on Saturday was a whole lot of horizontal knitting as the number of stitches expanded for shoulders. At one point there were 300+ stitches per row. By Sunday morning, the yoke was all banged out, sleeve stitches separated and held, then the fronts and back joined for the body of the sweater.

After that, it's just straight back and forth stocking stitch down to the contrast bands that finish off the bottom of the body. By the time I headed home, I had added about another inch to what you see in the photo above and was mightily pleased with myself. The hard, fiddly part was all banged out and the rest would be plain, if fine gauge, sailing.

And Then. And then I check my email when I get home and OMG at the top of the pile is a cheery note from Ravelry inviting me to download a revised corrected version of a pattern in my library--BLAER! Consternation is the polite word for what I felt. Deep, screaming, table-pounding consternation.  From the peak of self-congratulatory progress to the weedy bottom of the Slough of Despond.  Instead of banging out a few more rows before bedtime, I had to compare new and old pattern versions to figure out what had changed. (Note to Ravelry: you might want to help a knitter out by highlighting changed text in a new pattern version. Just sayin'.) Good news/bad news is that I can't find anything different in the size I'm making after (bad news) spending an hour comparing old and new. If something's off in the lace chart--pffft! I've done it and it looks ok, and I'm not going back there. I'm banging on undeterred.

But back to the retreat. As always, it was a joy to be with the amigas, eating delicious meals

Grilled fresh halibut, Mexican spoon bread, and salad, for example, drinking various potations, eating chocolate, soaking in the hot tub, and knitting, knitting, knitting.

Here are the members of our merry band:
Judy, in her regular clothes, banging out a beautiful green Aran sweater.

 Anne, our super host, banging out a Rowan denim gansey.

Jere, showing off her first pair of socks on her beautiful pointed Pilates toes.

Linda, who not only crocheted a scarf, but learned to knit!

Camden working on her heirloom Kaffe Fassett sweater.

You guys are all so beautiful and skilled!

And though we were inside knitting knitting knitting, browsing, and sluicing a lot, we did pop outside from time to time to admire King Mountain across the valley still wearing a lot of its winter snow

and watch the tiny new leaves emerge. They seemed to visibly expand by the hour.

Thursday, April 7, 2016

Banging Out a Blaer

Followers of the Mason Dixon blog will recall from a short time ago their #bangoutasweater project. The idea was to pick pattern and gauge that would be quick to knit, and to make a sweater in a short enough time to enjoy wearing it before the weather turned too warm. The pattern was Stopover in an Icelandic aran wool, very light and airy yet warm. It turned into a big knitalong where many knitters did indeed #bangoutasweater.

I was enchanted by the concept, but not really on board with the chosen pattern. I even had been lurking in Icelandic yarn stores on the web, electronically drooling on the yarn, but not ready to commit. And then the very same Mason Dixons flashed this in my receptive eyes.

The Blaer Icelandic cardigan! Not in the big gauge of the other one, but still a swell excuse to venture into Icelandic yarns. Being a creature of weak will, off I went. A couple of weeks later, a genuine parcel of yarn from Iceland plopped on my doorstep, and it is very exciting.

It smells not of sheep or lanolin, nor of dye and processing, but has a very pleasant herb-y soap-y scent. If Yankee Candle tried to capture it, might it be called Clean Wool?

And pondering (yet another) delicious new pile of yarn, it occurred to me that I maybe should try to #bangoutablaer. Yes, this is finer gauge than Stopover,  but the spring knitting retreat is coming soon, and wouldn't it be fun to see how much of a simple cardigan I could #bangout in a weekend dedicated to hours and hours of knitting in the company of like-minded souls? Stay tuned to this station for thrilling updates!

P.S. No worries about finishing too late to wear it. It's always sweater weather in Alaska!